Many travelers already know why all-inclusive resorts are so popular: they epitomize convenience and value.
With this type of vacation, the price of the stay often includes many amenities and services like food, beverages, room service, entertainment, activities and more. With all-inclusive resorts, travelers are accounting for their vacation extras in the up-front costs, which often leads to fewer surprises than paying for meals and activities a la carte.
But there have been some significant changes in the range and variety of all-inclusive offerings. Some of the perceptions travelers often have of all-inclusive resorts are no longer true. Three of the latest trends buck common perceptions: luxury all-inclusive experiences, gourmet dining, and unique experiences.
1. All-in Luxury
A common misperception about all-inclusive resorts is that by paying a single price for all of your amenities, food, and alcohol, you are sacrificing some of the finer things in life. Instead, all-inclusive vacation options now come at many price points, and can be strikingly luxurious.
For example, the Unlimited Vacation Club by AMResorts now offers more luxury suites than ever before. Many even have options for suites with direct access to swimming pools from their private terraces, like the ones at Secrets Aura Cozumel , Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa and more.
Recently, AMResorts’ Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun unveiled new lavish rooftop suites that offer state-of-the-art living rooms, spacious terraces with seating and Jacuzzis, and deluxe bathrooms with Jacuzzis and spa-like rain showerheads.
In choosing a luxurious all-inclusive resort, guests can also count on first-class service, a personalized resort experience, an array of activity options, top-shelf alcohol, and many special add-ons like wellness and fitness classes or programs.
At Grand Velas Resorts, guests are greeted with a welcome drink and mini massage while they wait for the keys to their luxury suite. The immaculate grounds overlook the white sandy beaches that are a characteristic of a luxury vacation in Mexico, and the world-class spa is a true mark of the superior experience travelers receive here.
AMResorts’ Secrets, Breathless, Dreams and Now Resorts & Spas also offer a range of premium inclusions that travelers may not expect from a typical all-inclusive resort through their Unlimited-Luxury® program, which is a wrist-band free program. These include 24-hour room and concierge services, an in-room bar that is refreshed daily, wait service on the beach and at the pool, unlimited access to restaurants with a reservation, unlimited top-shelf spirits and nightly entertainment.
The Endless Privileges® program provided exclusively at Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts offers superior inclusions such as a welcome bottle of tequila or rum, maid service three times daily, gourmet organic dining options, a 20-minute wellness or fitness consultation and worldwide calling.
Sunscape Resorts & Spa treats guests like royalty with its Unlimited-Fun® program. When a family checks in, they are greeted not only with red-carpet service, but with an actual red carpet laid out to lead them upstairs, which is a real treat for children and adults alike.
2. Gourmet Dining
In the past, all-inclusive dining was nearly synonymous with a buffet filled with pizza, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Adults were often afraid that they would come away feeling that they paid to eat off the kids menu all week.
But that idea of all-inclusive dining has long gone by the wayside. Some of the best all-inclusive resorts offer a variety of restaurants, and yes, buffet options, that are strictly gourmet.
When asked about new trends in all-inclusive vacationing, Georgina Godoy from Grand Velas Resort said: “Travelers are choosing our resort not only to relax, but also for the food, which is part of what makes Grand Velas Riviera Maya exceptional. We take food very seriously, with one five-diamond and two four-diamond restaurants awarded by AAA. These include chic gourmet restaurants, casual family bistros, outdoor eateries with ocean views, poolside bars and hip lounges. With the food at Grand Velas, you are in for a treat from top chefs.”
Guests with food allergies or special diets also no longer have a need to be wary of these resorts’ buffets and pre-fixed menus.
“At all of our resorts, special menu items are offered that cater to our gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and health-conscious guests,” said Lisa Logan of AMResorts.
3. Activities that Offer Unique Experiences
Travelers can sometimes be a little wary of the activities offered at resorts, worried that “nightly entertainment” will actually mean an hour of bingo in a conference room.
Lately, though, all-inclusive resorts have upped the ante with activities that truly enhance guests’ vacation experiences, adding unique elements to their trip that they would not have gotten on their own.
How about an included scuba diving lesson in the pool? Resorts like Zoëtry, Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now and Sunscape Resorts & Spas offer this as part of the all-inclusive package. These same resorts also offer stand-up paddle boarding, one of the most trendy water sports, and Zumba fitness classes are provided at resorts such as Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa, all included with the stay.
For guests looking to experience some off-resort culture, there are always an array of tours available to book through the concierge. Many offer included off-resort activities, like Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta, where guests can book a complimentary bike tour around the local Nuevo Vallarta community.
These types of activities cater to the experience-focused traveler, who may not have known they could experience local culture or learn a new skill at an all-inclusive resort.
The changing definition of all-inclusive
With these new trends in all-inclusive vacationing, trendsetting resorts are redefining the all-inclusive experience. Now, it seems, no matter what experience a traveler is looking for, there is an all-inclusive option to meet it.
With the popularity of all-inclusive resorts, there are many options for travelers looking to purchase vacation ownership. Current owners can also experience these vacations through exchange programs like RCI. RCI is affiliated with hundreds of resorts that offer all-inclusive packages. Recently, several of these affiliates were recognized as part of TripAdvisor’s list of Top 25 All-inclusive Resorts in the world:
- Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa Maroma, Mexico
- Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Mexico
- The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Salinas do Maragogi All Inclusive Resort, Maragogi, Brazil
- The Reserve at Paradisus Punta Cana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Secrets the Vine Cancun Resort & Spa, Cancun, Mexico
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
“We congratulate all seven of the RCI® affiliated properties that made this prestigious top 25 list,” said Gordon Gurnik, president of RCI. “RCI is proud to be affiliated with so many high-quality, highly-reviewed resorts, and we look forward to continuing to send our millions of members to these types of properties for unforgettable vacations. Our network’s solid representation on this list is a tribute to the robust network of vacation options we have created for our exchange members.”
TripAdvisor used traveler reviews from Aug. 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014 to compile its Top 25 All-Inclusive Resort list.